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Michael Kilgariff

CoR changes will put safety in the spotlight

April 2018

Heavy vehicle safety has already been much talked about this year, and changes to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) expected to commence in mid-2018 are set to keep the focus on this vitally important issue.

Increased attention on the importance of heavy vehicle safety is certainly welcome from an industry perspective. However, a more urgent priority at this point is to equip industry practitioners with the information and tools they need to ensure compliance and drive better outcomes.

Meeting this industry need has been at the core of the Australian Logistics Council’s (ALC) joint work with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) to develop a Registered Industry Code of Practice (RICP) for heavy vehicle safety.

This project has been under way since May 2017, developed in close consultation with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and is supported with funding from the Federal Government through the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.

Commonly referred to as the Master Code, this document will define national standards for best-practice risk assessment and treatment for heavy vehicle safety and compliance.

The Master Code will translate the requirements of the HVNL into a framework of known risk types, risk-assessment information and risk controls for parties with CoR obligations to implement in their operations.

It will help to provide clarity for industry, investigators and courts regarding the known risks around road-transport operations, and the best-practice response measures that may be installed to minimise those risks.

The Master Code will be published on the NHVR’s website and made freely available to anyone who wishes to use it, subject to the terms of use.

When the HVNL is amended around mid-2018 (which will give effect to the expanded CoR obligations), RICPs may be used as evidence in court to determine what is reasonably practicable in a given circumstance to which the code relates.
The Master Code will primarily address the four principal areas covered by CoR requirements: speed; fatigue; mass, dimension and loading; and vehicle standards and maintenance.
The information contained in the Master Code will be applicable to all heavy vehicle supply-chain operations in Australia.

Central to the continuing development of the Master Code has been an ongoing and extensive process of engagement with key industry bodies, supply chain participants and other stakeholders who will be affected by the coming changes to CoR.
This began in earnest with a series of interactive consultative workshops held as part of the 2017 ALC Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit, which provided industry practitioners with an early opportunity to shape the design of the Master Code.

These initial sessions have been supported further direct consultations with a wide range of industry representatives throughout the latter part of 2017, and continuing to the present.

The net effect of this has been to establish a dynamic process of quality control, which is helping to make certain that the Master Code will be relevant to the needs of the whole industry, accessible to users and effective in the process of risk management and driving continuous safety improvements.
The code developers are continuing to engage closely with industry representatives on the draft version of the Master Code, and making necessary refinements that will deliver the best possible product for the industry.

We expect to submit the final draft of the Master Code to the NHVR for assessment before the middle of the year, when the changes to CoR are expected to commence.

You can find out more about the Master Code and the upcoming changes to CoR by contacting aaron.moeller@nhvr.gov.au or peter.elliot@austlogistics.com.au.

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